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Thai Egg Plant - มะเขือ

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The Thai eggplant (Thai: มะเขือ ) is a variety of eggplant used primarily in Thai cuisine. This is also cultivated in Sri Lanka and used in Sri Lankan cuisine. The most common eggplants in Thai cooking are the round white or green ones about the size of a golf ball. Common cultivar types in Thailand are Thai Purple, Thai Green, Thai Yellow, and Thai White.

Thai eggplants are essential ingredients in Thai curry dishes such as the green curry and the red curry. In green and red curry, Thai eggplants are quartered and cooked in the curry sauce where they become softer and absorb the flavor of the sauce.

In many Thai restaurants in the United States, Thai eggplants are usually replaced by the large purple eggplants common in that country.

Fruit and Vegetable Carving

Thai Food - Spicy Catfish with Egg Plant

Growing Egg Plants

1 Prepare a seed-starting tray six weeks before the last average frost in your area (For those not in Thailand). Mix water with the sterile seed-starting medium until it is moist. Pour the medium into the tray. Place two seeds in each cell of the tray. Lightly cover with medium and mist with water. Place the plastic lid on the tray.

2 Cover a heating pad with plastic to protect it from water. Place it in a location where the seeds will receive 12 to 14 hours of bright, filtered light daily. Turn the heating pad on low and place the seed-starting tray on it.(For those not in Thailand)

3 Remove the plastic lid when the seeds germinate in seven to 14 days. Continue to monitor the moisture level and temperature. Eggplant seedlings need a constant temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive.(For those not in Thailand)

4 Choose the healthiest seedlings two to three weeks after germination. Use scissors to snip the stems of excess seedlings to avoid disturbing the root ball of the desired plants.

5 Fill each 4-inch pot with 2 inches of potting medium. Carefully remove the seedlings from the tray by using a fork to lift the root ball. Don't lift a seedling by its stem. Place each seedling in a pot and fill around the root ball with potting medium. Gently press the soil around the roots.

6 Water each seedling by placing the pot in a tray filled with 1 inch of water. Allow the potting medium to soak up the water for 10 to 15 minutes, and then remove the pot from the water. Avoid getting water on the seedling's stems; eggplants are prone to damping off.

7 Fertilize with a balanced liquid fertilizer weekly or a compost tea twice a week. Once the seedlings are planted outside, fertilize monthly through the growing season.

8 Prepare the garden bed two weeks after the last frost, when night temperatures rise above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (For those not in Thailand) . Add 3 inches of compost to the bed and dig in, mixing it with the soil to a depth of 12 inches. If your soil pH is neutral or alkaline, dig in an additional inch of peat moss with the compost and soil. Eggplants prefer a slightly acidic soil.

9 Dig 8-inch-wide planting holes, spacing them 24 inches apart. Remove each eggplant seedling from its 4-inch pot and insert it into the planting hole. Backfill with the amended soil, tamping gently around the root ball. Water thoroughly.

10 Surround the eggplants with 4 inches of mulch, pulling it back from the plants' stems. Then insert a tomato cage over each seedling. Eggplant fruits are heavy, and the plants tend to sprawl. A tomato cage holds the plant upright, keeping the fruit off the ground and allowing air to circulate.

11 Monitor the eggplants for pests such as aphids, caterpillars, flea beetles, spider mites and whiteflies. While caterpillars are easily hand-picked from the leaves, and other pests are knocked from the plants with a strong stream of water. Flea beetles may require a spinosad insecticide product.

12 Harvest the eggplants according to the seed package directions, approximately 128 days after germination. Use anvil pruners to cut through the thick stems.